Many wine lovers enjoy bold, red wines that feature chocolate notes. But did you know that you can also drink mixtures of wine and melted chocolate? These mixtures are called “chocolate wine”. While this drink might not sound great at first, it can be a delicious alternative to cocoa, mulled wine, or a sweet dessert.
What Is Chocolate Wine?
Chocolate wine is a mixed drink made from wine and liquid chocolate. It might also be referred to as chocolate liqueur. While many producers make ready-to-drink chocolate wine, it’s also possible to make it at home.
Is Wine with Chocolate Flavors Always Chocolate Wine?
No, chocolate flavors don’t indicate a chocolate wine. Some regular table wines, especially bold red wines, develop chocolate aromas when they age in oak barrels.
But only mixed drinks that actually contain chocolate as an ingredient are considered chocolate wines. However, the term “chocolate wine” isn’t protected. So vintners may also use it as a name for table wine without chocolate.
What Is Chocolate Wine Made Of?
Chocolate wine is typically made from at least three ingredients:
- Dry, red wine.
- Melted chocolate, usually dark bitter chocolate.
This recipe isn’t carved in stone, though. There are plenty of variations, and if you make it at home, you can alter it in many ways, for instance:
- You can replace the chocolate with milk, cocoa powder, and egg yolks.
- Instead of sugar, you can use sweet fortified wines like Port or Sherry to sweeten the drink. If you aim for a very sweet drink, you might want to waive the dry wine entirely and use only the sweet wine.
- With spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, or vanilla, you can add aromas to create a more complex flavors profile.
- In some cases, a thickening agent like flour might be necessary to give the mix an enjoyable texture. Heavy cream might do the same job.
How Is Chocolate Wine Made?
Making chocolate wine is very straightforward. Producers buy (or make) red table wine that undergoes the usual production process. Of course, they don’t go for extremely good or expensive wines; these are simply too good to be diluted with chocolate.
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It is not uncommon that they blend different wines and add spices to find the perfect flavor profile for chocolate wine.
The chocolate (or cocoa mix) is prepared separately. If chocolate is part of the recipe, producers heat and melt it first. Then, they blend it with the wine and tweak the flavor of the mix.
How to Make Chocolate Wine at Home?
Making chocolate wine at home is not difficult. You just need to make up your mind about the result you desire:
- If you prefer a light wine that is enjoyable when chilled, mix soft milk chocolate with a fruity, light-bodied wine such as Pinot Noir.
- For bolder, richer preparations, combine dark bitter chocolate with a full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. This mixture is usually better when it comes hot.
In both cases, the preparations steps are the same:
- Fill the red wine into a pan and heat it over low heat.
- Let it simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce its alcohol content.
- At the same time, put a bar of dark, bitter chocolate in a water bath.
- Heat it until the chocolate melts.
- Remove both vessels from the heat. Stir the chocolate slowly into the wine. Using a handheld electric mixer can help but make sure to run it at the lowest speed setting.
- Add spices as you please.
- Keep on stirring until the mix gets frothy.
- Serve the drink warm or let it cool down.
What Does Chocolate Wine Taste Like?
Chocolate wines are thick drinks. Their texture might remind you of cream-based liqueurs such as Bailey’s or Amarula Cream.
In mass-produced styles, wine aromas typically don’t have much room to shine. The bitter-sweet chocolate flavors are simply too dominant. So it’s fair to say that many industrial-made wines taste like a cocoa drink with alcohol. You might sense notes of red fruits, caramel, or coffee, though.
Of course, that isn’t necessarily true for homemade preparations. As you can alter the drink’s texture and flavor according to your preferences, you can create more balanced mixes that allow both wine and chocolate aromas to shine.
Is Chocolate Wine Sweet?
Yes, most chocolate wine is on the sweet side. While some have a rather subtle sweetness, others are extremely sweet. In any case, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you probably won’t enjoy it.
How to Store Chocolate Wine
You should treat chocolate wines like any other table wine: Store them in a cool place, where they are protected from sudden temperature changes, sunlight, vibrations, and intensively smelling chemicals.
Can Chocolate Wine Go Bad?
Yes, it can go bad when exposed to sunlight or oxygen for too long. Usually, you can smell or taste very intense off-flavors if the wine actually went off. In some cases, it also changes its color.
How Long Does Chocolate Wine Last When Open?
Chocolate wines have an extensive lifespan even after opening them. Most styles will keep fine for at least one year. You should reseal the bottle and keep it in the fridge or a cool and dark spot in your basement.
Can Chocolate Wine Be Aged?
No, chocolate wine can’t be aged. Unlike many table wines, it won’t get better if you store it for an extensive period. However, it won’t go bad either. Many producers advise drinking their wines within two years after buying them. But the chance that they will spoil if you keep them longer is close to zero.
How to Serve Chocolate Wine?
There are different ways to serve chocolate wine. The most common practice is to offer it as the last dinner course, either together with or as a replacement for dessert. But it can also be a great afternoon drink that you enjoy instead of coffee or cocoa. Furthermore, it’s a fantastic alternative to mulled wine around Christmas time.
What Is the Optimal Serving Temperature for Chocolate Wine?
The best serving temperature can vary based on the style. Some are better when served warm (just like a cup of cocoa); others should come slightly chilled at 57 to 62°F (14-17°C). When buying a bottle, the label usually indicates the optimal way to serve. For homemade wines, it’s best to try and compare warm and cool servings upfront. You can use a big ice cube to chill the mix.
What Is the Best Glass for Chocolate Wine?
The best glass depends on how you serve it. When served chilled, you can use a standard red wine glass or, for smaller portions, a dessert wine glass such as a Port glass.
If you prefer a hot serving, better go for a teacup or a coffee mug with a handle so your guests don’t burn their fingers.
Should You Decant Chocolate Wine?
No, chocolate wines don’t need any decanting. Just serve them as soon as they have the desired temperature.
Chocolate Wine and Food Pairing
As mentioned before, chocolate wine is excellent for dessert. Cakes and tarts tend to be good pairings. The same is true for fruit-based dishes such as fruit salads. An even better option is a platter of fruits and cheeses.
You should not pair it with very sweet desserts, though. Although chocolate-based dishes might come to your mind as great pairings, they are not. Better enjoy these desserts with regular table wine.
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Chocolate wines are controversial in the wine lover community. And especially for people who disregard sweet wines whatsoever, they are a red flag. However, it’s always better to taste a wine yourself instead of relying upon the judgment of others. And especially if you enjoy rich, sweet dessert wines such as Port, Commandaria, or Madeira, you should give chocolate wine a try.